Roughly a year ago, I sat in my AP Calculus class, sitting unusually still while I clicked the refresh button on the QuestBridge portal page. When I was welcomed with a bright maroon gif that flashed “You’ve Been Matched!” I nearly lost my breath. As dramatic as it sounds, I quietly (though very obviously) scurried out of the classroom and hurried into the bathroom as I struggled to find my phone in my jacket. After several tries to call my parents, my mom finally picked up; the sound of her voice tethered me back to reality and as I told her the news, I struggled to process that I would be spending the next four years of my life at Tufts.
Before being matched, I was--as all high school seniors are--plagued with stress and a desire to just know where I would be going after graduation. After being matched by QuestBridge, my thoughts regarding college were equal parts excitement and fear. The Tufts “Questies” quickly found each other via Facebook and made a group chat where we discussed how thrilled we were to attend Tufts and bonded over our experiences as low-income students. As senior year continued faster than I could keep up, the stress of the logistics and the reality of going to college joined the excitement and the novelty of it all. I’d been in the Midwest for nearly twelve years, and while the idea of getting out of my familiar Missouri college town had been a dream of mine, I had never, ever been to the Northeast and I only knew Tufts through its website’s pictures and the Tufts Admissions YouTube page. The fact that no one knew Tufts--except for my dentist, a couple of teachers and a pretentious classmate who knew college rankings like the back of his hand--worried me further. Would I be able to find a community? Would I enjoy the Northeast’s snobby charm and survive the allegedly dreadful hills of Tufts' campus? Most of all, would I fit in a school where only 40% of the class receives financial aid?
Three months into the college experience, I can confidently say that I am so glad that I--admittedly, by impulse--scribbled down Tufts University on my QuestBridge ranking form. Though my first time on campus was only twenty-four hours before I moved in for pre-orientation and I’ve truly forgotten what compelled me to start researching a mid-sized northeastern school I knew absolutely nothing about, these first few months on The Hill have erased all pressing doubts. I’ll never forget the five-day hiking trip I took with my Tufts Wilderness Orientation group: I spent five days trekking (a better word would be struggling) up Vermont’s long trail with seven other (then) strangers and two of the loveliest seniors I’ve ever met. After taking in the expansive views from Baker’s Peak and engaging in several late-night conversations regarding college doubts, my fears started to wear off. Days later, I met my roommate, who by some grand stroke of luck was also a QuestBridge Scholar. She and I are great friends, and you can find us on the weekends with four of our closest friends in the basement of Metcalf Hall, staying up way too late to play card games. Homework piles up fast, but a combination of college freedom, the shuttle to Davis and the T have allowed me to explore the city that is so easily seen from the roof of Tisch Library. I expected Tufts to be a place where it would be difficult to make connections with other low-income students like me, simply because of the demographics and the location of the school. I couldn’t have been more wrong. From a dorm supplies drive at the beginning of the year to Campus Center take-overs and open conversations about making the most out of college, the staff and the support at the FIRST Center have been incredible. Every time I go, I get the sense that there is truly a place for me at the wealthy, private institution that is Tufts.
In retrospect, being matched felt like looking at the view from the top of a mountain. I looked behind me and saw the fragments of four years of high school following me to the very top, but I quickly realized how scared I was to come back down and start all over. A year later (and yes, it does feel like yesterday) I am glad to say that Tufts is exactly what I hoped it would be: a match. While the age-old saying of “college is what you make of it" is very true and the college admissions process can lead to a variety of different outcomes, I am forever grateful to QuestBridge, for opening the doors for me to attend an institution that I feel is for me.
To the Match scholars of 2019, many, many congratulations! Relax. I truly hope you can because you’ve done it. Savor the rest of your senior year and get excited for all that Tufts has to offer and the growth you will experience in these next four years. For those other Questies interested in Tufts: I really like Tufts. I truly do. Keep hiking up the long trail that is the college admissions process and don’t look back because exciting things are in store for you, no matter where you end up.